Heinz Fischer

Heinz Fischer GColIH OMRI RSerafO GCollSE (German pronunciation: [haɪnts ˈfɪʃɐ] (listen); born 9 October 1938 in Graz, Styria) is a former Austrian politician. He took office as President of Austria on 8 July 2004 and was re-elected for a second and last term on 25 April 2010, leaving office on 8 July 2016. Fischer previously served as minister of science from 1983 to 1987 and as president of the National Council of Austria from 1990 to 2002. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), he suspended his party membership for the duration of his presidency.[1][2]

Heinz Fischer

President of Austria
In office
8 July 2004  8 July 2016
ChancellorWolfgang Schüssel
Alfred Gusenbauer
Werner Faymann
Reinhold Mitterlehner (Acting)
Christian Kern
Vice-ChancellorHubert Gorbach
Wilhelm Molterer
Josef Pröll
Michael Spindelegger
Reinhold Mitterlehner
Preceded byThomas Klestil
Succeeded byAlexander Van der Bellen
President of the National Council
In office
5 November 1990  20 December 2002
Preceded byRudolf Pöder
Succeeded byAndreas Khol
Personal details
Born (1938-10-09) 9 October 1938
Graz, Nazi Germany (now Austria)
Political partyIndependent (since 2004)
Other political
Social Democratic Party (before 2004)
Spouse(s)Margit Binder
Alma materUniversity of Vienna
AwardsOrder of Merit of the Italian Republic
Order of Prince Henry
Royal Order of the Seraphim
Military Order of Saint James of the Sword

Early life

Fischer was born in Graz, Styria, which had recently become part of Nazi Germany, following Germany’s annexation of Austria in March 1938. Fischer attended a grammar school which focused on humanities and graduated in 1956. He studied law at the University of Vienna, earning a doctorate in 1961. In 1963, at the age of 25, Fischer spent a year volunteering at Kibbutz Sarid, northern Israel.[3] Apart from being a politician, Fischer also pursued an academic career, and became a professor of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck in 1994.[4]

Political career

Fischer was a member of the Austrian parliament, the National Council, from 1971, and served as its president from 1990 to 2002. From 1983 to 1987 he was minister of science in a coalition government headed by Fred Sinowatz.

First term as president

In January 2004 Fischer announced that he would run for president to succeed Thomas Klestil. He was elected on 25 April 2004 as the candidate of the opposition Social Democratic Party. He polled 52.4 per cent of the votes to defeat Benita Ferrero-Waldner, then foreign minister in the ruling conservative coalition led by the People's Party.

Fischer was sworn in on 8 July 2004 and took over office from the college of presidents of the National Council, who had acted for the president following Klestil's death on 6 July.

Fischer's critics, foremost among them Norbert Leser, his university colleague, have derided him as a career politician (Berufspolitiker) who has never been in touch with the real world. They claim that Fischer has always avoided controversy and conflict, even when that seemed required, pointing to Fischer's tacit support for Bruno Kreisky in his attacks on Simon Wiesenthal. On being nominated for president, Fischer said that he hated antagonising people and that he considered this quality an asset rather than anything else.

Second term as president

In April 2010, Fischer was re-elected president of Austria, winning a second six-year term in office with almost 79% of the votes. The voter turnout of merely 53.6% was a record low.[5] Around a third of those eligible to vote voted for Fischer, leading the conservative daily Die Presse to describe the election as an "absolute majority for non-voters".[6] The reasons behind the low turnout may have been that pollsters had predicted a safe victory for Fischer (past Austrian presidents running for a second term had always won) and that the other large party, ÖVP, had not nominated a candidate of their own, and had not endorsed any of the three candidates. Prominent ÖVP members, unofficially but in public, even suggested to cast a blank vote, which 7% of the voters did.

Personal life

Fischer identifies himself as agnostic[8] and as a social democrat. Heinz Fischer and Margit Binder married in 1968. The couple have two grown children.

Fischer enjoys mountaineering and has been president of the Austrian Friends of Nature for many years.

Honours and awards

National Honours

Federal Order

State Honours


  • 2009 Florianiplakette of the Austrian Federal Fire Association in gold

Foreign Honours

Foreign Orders

Foreign Awards

See also


  1. Online, Wiener Zeitung. "Wiener Zeitung Online - Tageszeitung für Österreich". Wiener Zeitung Online - Tageszeitung für Österreich.
  2. "Neuer alter Präsident". Bayerischer Rundfunk. 2010-04-25. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  3. "Austrian president vows to bring up Schalit case with Assad - Middle East".
  4. "External lecturers". Department of Political Science, University of Innsbruck. Archived from the original on 16 October 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  5. "Austria president sweeps to victory". Al Jazeera. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  6. http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=357759&version=1&template_id=39&parent_id=21 Archived June 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. "President of Austria Visits ESO in Santiago". ESO Announcements. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  8. "Bundespräsident.at: "Es kann auch das Standesamt sein" profil". www.bundespraesident.at. Archived from the original on 2018-07-10. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  9. Portuguese President's website Archived January 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  10. Lithuanian Presidency Archived 2014-04-19 at the Wayback Machine, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  11. "L'actualité des royautés, "Henri et Maria Teresa en Autriche"" (in French). Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  12. Republikes, Presidenti i. "Website Zyrtar". president.al. Archived from the original on 2016-08-07. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  13. "The Epitome of Brand Success - The BrandLaureate". www.thebrandlaureate.com.
Political offices
Preceded by
Rudolf Pöder
President of the National Council
Succeeded by
Andreas Khol
Preceded by
Thomas Klestil
President of Austria
Succeeded by
Alexander Van der Bellen
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